In reality, it couldn’t have ended any other way. A season that has seen more than its fair share of bizarre finishes and meaningless, unlikely plays swinging fantasy matchups had to end like this. The final play of Week 16 and the fantasy football season was yet another lateral-palooza gone wrong. This time, it was the Eagles defense that took advantage, scooping up the seemingly predestined fumble and running it in for a touchdown it didn’t need. The score may have meant nothing to the Eagles, but, judging by our inbox, it meant a whole lot to thousands of fantasy owners across the country.
The Bad Beats, Playoff Edition, was going to cover all of Week 14 through Week 16, but the ending of Raiders-Eagles forced us to change course. We had literally hundreds of emails from readers burned by the Eagles fumble-return touchdown, so our focus had to go there. We narrowed it down, choosing the very best submissions for the column.
As always, these are real bad beats from real readers. The wording is mostly theirs, received by SI in email form. The emails have been edited for clarity. Thanks to all of them for sharing their heartbreak with us.
And away we go…
From Paul Sartori
Going into the game the I was winning, 107.6 to 83.9. My opponent had two players remaining, Nick Foles and Philly D. Considering it was going to be a cold night, I liked the chances of Foles putting up limited points, but totally inept Raiders offense paired with the Eagles D scared me.
After the first half, things looked great. Foles tossed a short TD pass, but it was obvious he was struggling to gain any momentum with his receivers. The Raiders seemed to be installing an ultra conservative game plan that could be confused with running out the clock. I had a comfortable lead and just needed a quiet, boring second half to take place.
The slow half I was looking for was seeming to come to fruition, until three turnovers, two forced by the Philly D, put some points on the board for them. Aggravating to watch, but with Foles and the offense going nowhere, I still felt confident in my lead. Deep into the fourth quarter, I am winning 107.6 to 100. Running the numbers, I figure the only way I can lose at this point is overtime or a defensive touchdown.
Then the chaos started.
Roland Darby picks off Derek Carr and looks to return it for a TD.
“NOOOO this cant be how I lose”
Refs rule Darby down by contact but uphold INT
*phew* sigh of relief
107.6 to 102
Foles drives Eagles down the field into FG range
“YESSSS Eagles take lead, run the clock out and I am champion!”
107.6 - 103.3
1st, 2nd, 3rd down - nothing
now it’s 4th down. Deep in my stomach I know the possibility. The Raiders could totally screw up their laterals
another lateral and oh no, then ball is loose and the Eagles have it
I watch in disbelief as the Eagles walk in for a meaningless TD that just cut through the heart of my fantasy dreams.
I lose, 111.3 to 107.6
I hope I am not the only one out there.
Don’t worry, Paul. You’re not.
From Adam Grossman
Minute left of the game, I'm down by 0.3:
I have Agholor and Jake Elliott, he had Ertz and Eagles D.
Back-to-back outs to Agholor, I take the lead.
Then back-to-back passes to Ertz, he takes the lead.
Jake Elliot kicks the game winning FG, I take the lead by 3.
Raiders fumble on the final play, Barnett runs in the TD rather than downing it.
My season is over.
I lost by 3.8.
From Fran Santangelo
I was up 95-90 in my Fantasy League going into the last play of that Raiders-Eagles game and wound up losing 98-95 due to the fumble recovery and defensive score. I am Giants fan and now hate the Eagles even more, and equally the Raiders for not just throwing a Hail Mary!
From Steven Bassit
In my Fantasy league our last place game was decided by the Eagles defense. Punishment for being is last place is not good. You have to stand on the busiest corner in the city wearing a costume of the champions choice for 10 min per loss, holding a sign that says how much you suck at fantasy football. We even have a sponsor for the sign. Then after we all sit across and watch him for what is going to be 90 min we head to the bars where he'll keep the sign and the costume on. It's a standard scoring league. Going into Monday, one player in the last place game is up 76.5 to 63.84. The leader has Le’Veon Bell, while the other guy has Chris Boswell, Lamar Miller and Philly’s defense. Projections had the W all locked up for the Bell team, and after the Steelers-Texans game he was up 92.20 to 80.34. The rest is history. We all watched intently as Philly's defense did all its damage in the fourth quarter, including the final touchdown that decided it. The team that thought they had it on lock disappeared for the rest of the night, while the winner was celebrating like he had won the championship because avoiding the last place punishment, is just as sweet of a victory.
From Joshua Amparan
Joined my Cousin’s Vegas fantasy league this year. Only stipulation is that you have to go to Vegas for the draft. Had a great weekend that included me making $900 off a $25 roulette bet on 4 (my son’s favorite number).
I managed to win my division and get a first round bye. Was worried about facing the number one team in the league for the Super Bowl. But, it was a bad week for both of us. Was up by nine going into Eagles/Raiders. All that was left: Lynch for my team, Philly D for his. Philly D didn’t do anything in the first half and I had a 15-point cushion. The Carr interception hurt, followed by the Lynch fumble two plays later, but I was still maintaining a 9-point lead with three seconds left. Fumble recovery = 2 points, TD = 6 pts, 23 yard defensive TD = 2 more points. Lost by 1.
What’s worse, there were so many ways my team could’ve still won. Just need Case Keenum to get 1 more passing yard or have 1 more completion to tie (a completion probably would’ve given me both the yards and completion for the win). Le’Veon Bell needed 1 more yard to get another point, or any of my players needed to get one more catch for me to tie. Had Lynch not fumbled or Harrison Butker not missed a field goal, it would’ve been a win.
This wasn’t just a bad beat, it was the worst possible beat you could come up with. You couldn’t have scripted it better if you tried. Went from $1,055 in winnings to $150. That’s a $905 swing. And it would’ve covered my trip back to Vegas for next year’s draft.
Guessing Vegas didn’t like me hitting that roulette bet.
I guess not, Joshua.
Thanks to everyone who submitted their bad beat stories throughout the season. We know they weren't fun to suffer, but we hope this outlet at least helped you get over them a little bit. And hey, here's some good news: No more bad beats for at least eight months.